Westminster Senior Center for storage of homeless “stuff” will be discussed at the next town hall forum which will be 15 September 6 to 8 pm, Westminster Elementary School, 1010 Abbot Kinney Blvd. Previous time stated 7 to 9 pm.
Councilman Mike Bonin mentioned at the homeless input meet Thursday (8 september) at the Westminster School that he planned to look into the Mobile Storage proposed by the Venice Neighborhood Council Homeless Committee. He also made the statement that the City Attorney Mike Feuer had looked over the deed restrictions of the senior center, gave no statement regarding such, and indicated that he would continue to plan on using the senior center.
David Graham-Caso, communications director for Councilman Bonin, said that Bonin was investigating the Mobile Storage Program but would continue with updating the senior center anyway. It needed updating either way, he said. When asked about the agreement with Chrysalis to manage the storage, Graham-Caso said that it was not to happen until November.
Although it was not to be the subject of the Homeless Town Hall held Thursday, the Westminster Senior Center kept creeping into the comments. People kept commenting that they could not understand why Bonin planned to use the senior center. The Venice Neighborhood Council, advisory to the Councilman, voted “no” overwhelmingly regarding using the senior center for storage … the deed was specific regarding the restrictions … and the Homeless Committee had come up with a Mobile Storage Program, yet Bonin was moving forward. Bonin said he would definitely look at the mobile storage program proposed but that he was going forward with the senior center.
Many people voiced their concerns and opinions that this was all a done deal. All said they were just told it would be used for storage and the work began. There had been no input from the people.
Comments made by the chair of the VNC Homeless Committee, following Kip Pardue’s take on the meeting:
For those of you who missed Bonin’s meeting at Westminster Elementary School last night, you missed the Councilman state that his plan for utilizing the Westminster Senior Center for homeless storage was moving forward, regardless that an alternative mobile solution has been presented by the Homeless Committee that could not only be be up and running within 60-90 days, but would also provide more caseworkers and services for the homeless community than the original plan and could be executed much more efficiently and economically.
For Councilman Bonin to say that the VNC failed to present alternative options when we voted down his Senior Center plan last month is incredibly misleading and irresponsible, as we had just recently been sworn in and the homeless committee had just been formed a week prior. The VNC election results were challenged and we were not confirmed by the city until just days before being sworn in, which also delayed our ability to form and confirm committees.
When the VNC finally met as a unit, I was voted as the committee chairman and I brought together a killer team of experienced and brilliant people with an incredible depth of knowledge of the issues we face with homelessness. Our team met for the first time a few weeks later and brainstormed ideas. We came up with our superior mobile storage plan (along with a workable budget) in lightening speed, presented that plan at our next meeting where it found incredible support from the community, passed unanimously and will be presented to the VNC 9/20. This work was all done in less than 45 days of our committee being formed, and Bonin wants to makes it sound like we were all sleeping on the job when the truth is that we’ve all been hard at work since day one trying to undo the debacle he created.
The Westminster Senior Center was not built, nor intended, and is legally prohibited from being utilized for this purpose and ultimately this location is inappropriate and unsafe for this homeless storage program. Whether that plan is temporary or not, it’s ill-conceived. The Homeless Committee rejected it, the Venice Neighborhood Council rejected it, the community as a whole rejected it and common sense rejects it as irresponsible, unsafe and reckless.
The Homeless Committee supports the need for some form of a storage program, but we highly recommend the mobile plan we’ve presented as the safest and most efficient option for all involved. Our plan not only includes much needed storage, but also includes on-the-ground caseworkers that provide daily services to the homeless community and it also includes funds to employ a number of un-homed individuals to assist in the program as well as working daily to keep our streets, sidewalks and alleys clean.
Around the world Venice is known to be a community of creative and innovative people. Doesn’t it make sense that the solutions to the issues we face as a community be creative and innovative as well? Let’s think big and be outliers and leaders in solving these types of problems. Let’s create the kind of solutions that inspire and influence other communities and municipalities to think outside the box too.
Thanks to the incredible members of the homeless committee who have worked painstakingly to create this plan.